Safartica: Chase the northern lights on an arctic snow safari
By Trine Ejlskov Jensen-Martin
There is something undeniably magical about Lapland’s beautiful snowy wilderness. With abundant unspoiled wildlife, lakes and forests, it is a haven unlike anywhere else on earth. The Finnish destination management company Safartica knows the nature, culture and outdoor activities of this area better than anyone else. They are experts on arranging sustainable adventures to help visitors explore the best of Lapland.
The number of tourists to Lapland has been growing steadily since a boom in the 2000s. As a result, the wilderness adventurists at Safartica, who have deep roots in Lappish culture, have been busy arranging guided snow safaris, hiking trips, and husky rides. You only need to see a handful of the many hashtags on Instagram to get a sense of the incredible activities they offer. “We are run by local people, who all share a passion for the outdoors and for our region,” says Safartica’s digital project manager Mikhail Sinitcyn. The business has over 20 years’ experience arranging tours in and around Rovaniemi – known as the home of Santa, Ylläs and Levi – a popular ski resort.
Silence, snow and nature
The latest exciting addition to Safartica’s offering is Aurora eMotion, the innovative and environmentally-friendly snow mobiles. The e-Sleds are completely silent, and therefore don’t disturb wildlife, locals or the natural silence of Lapland’s wilderness. “So far, we’re the only company here doing this,” Sinitcyn says. “Our electric snowmobiles are manufactured with sustainable travel and the reduction of sound pollution in mind. Now all you hear is snowfall and silence.”
The e-Sleds are a green alternative to the traditional combustion engine snowmobiles. “The old ones were very noisy and smelly!” says Sinitcyn. Local engineers have been developing the e-Sled since 2010 and the improved, locally-produced machines retain a typical snowmobile frame but have been built specifically around the electric engine.
Snow safaris and chasing the Northern Lights
Each Safartica Aurora eMotion trip is different, but they are all operated and run in the same way. “We pick up our customers and bring them to the office where everyone is equipped with appropriate clothing and helmets for safety,” Sinitcyn explains. The group is then taken outside to the snowmobiles and carefully shown how to operate them. You can either ride your own e-Sled or share with a friend, depending on your preference. Groups of up to 10 people are led by an experienced and knowledgeable guide, who will be with the group throughout the trip. A typical tour will start with crossing a frozen lake into a snow-covered forest and can include either ice-fishing or building a campfire, where lunch can be cooked.
“We also do evening tours, where you get to see the Northern Lights,” says Sinitcyn. Undoubtedly, the aurora borealis is one of the biggest attractions for visitors each winter. An ideal stay to catch the phenomenon, Sinitcyn suggests, is three to five days, or a week if possible. “The weather changes all the time, so the more days you have here, the better your chance of catching the Northern Lights.”
The snowmobile tours only operate during the winter months, between 1 December and the end of March or the beginning of April, but climate changes are starting to affect these seasons. “People think we will not be affected by rising temperatures, but we see our winter season change each year and both temperatures and snowfall are hugely affected,” says Sinitcyn.
Safartica’s business is tangibly impacted by the weather, which can kick-start the season a week early, or delay it by a week. In recent years, winter has been coming to Lapland later and later.” Sinitcyn says this is worrying: “We try to prepare as much as we can and preserve the snow from the previous season, just in case.” Snow or no snow, as all the tours start on the frozen lake, they still must wait until the temperature drops enough for the lake to freeze over.
“We appeal to people who are interested in sustainable tourism and who enjoy exploring the great outdoors,” Sinitcyn says. Safartica facilitate exciting activities in their beautiful local surroundings without ruining them. Lapland’s magical snowy wilderness will continue to attract people of all ages, and Safartica will continue to share their love of adventure and deep respect for nature with those who come to explore it.
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